Wines for Dear Old Dad

My Dad

This marks my first Father’s Day since my dad passed last July, 3 months before he turned 90. It’s been a year of firsts, his first birthday, first Christmas and now first Father’s Day without him. He was a wonderful dad, and always had a smile on his face. He lived a great life and we all miss him very much.
Dear old Dad wasn’t very much of a wine drinker, but he was the first one to pour me and mom a glass. As a matter of fact, my Dad always went to the store and got Mom’s wine. it was after my Dad had passed, that my Mom went into the liquor store for the first time and bought her own wine. That was a new experience for her. He also loved great food.

I have to share with you the chicken that changed my life LOL. Anyone who was willing to listen this past week, I told them about this chicken. I brined my first chicken last weekend.

I took out a chicken early Saturday morning out of my freezer to thaw. Later that afternoon I boiled water, sugar, brown sugar, peppercorns, molasses, lemon, rosemary, thyme, & garlic. Once it cooled to room temperature, I added more cold water. It’s very important you do not put raw chicken in warm water, because it will create a safety hazard. Then I put the pot with the chicken and my flavored brine in my fridge and left it there until late Sunday afternoon. You can brine for 6 to 12 hours, however because I was having this chicken for Sunday supper, I brined for 24 hours. Then, because it was a beautiful evening, I fired up the barbeque and put it on the rotisserie.
I don’t have a picture of the finished product, because once it reached an internal temperature if 165° and it rested, I carved the chicken and started eating. O.M.G! It was that good, and I ate so much, I forgot to take a picture. It was so good I almost went door to door in my apartment building to say “You have to try this”! But I didn’t.

Let’s talk about some cocktails. On a beautiful sunny day, I know many Dad’s enjoy a beer while working the grill. So for Father’s Day we are also going to feature a beer. Now, here’s one of my favorite beers. Made here in the Maritimes.

Crafty Radler

If someone had told me a few years ago I would love beer with grapefruit and tangerine, I don’t know if I would have believed them. But I do! Made by Pumphouse Brewery in Moncton, New Brunswick, this delicious blend of beer, grapefruit and tangerine hits the spot on hot Summer day.

At the NSLC yesterday I noticed many of Nova Scotia Tidal Bay wines were on sale. These are fabulous for sipping on patios as the weather warms up, or enjoying with your favorite chicken or seafood. These wines truly reflect the terroir of Nova Scotia and I’ve never had one I didn’t like. Some of the ones on sale this week were Benjamin Bridge, L’Acadie and Grand Pre, just to name a few.

And last but not least, I tried a new red this past week and it was yummy.

Delicious and on sale right now

What a pleasant surprise this was. The Amado Sur Red Blen is an Argentinian blend of Malbec, Bonarda and Syrah. I looked for it on our NSLC website and couldn’t find it anywhere, however, it’s there. I saw it again last night when I was there. It’s in the Argentina section and it’s on sale right now for $16.99. Jon Thorsen who writes my personal favorite wine blog, the Reverse Wine Snob, check it out here. Jon started this blog because like me, he feels wine doesn’t have to be expensive to be good. He calls it a delightfully rich and fruity blend, and says it’s vegan friendly.

The wine-maker says its a great wine to go with steak, and it would be, but I had a little something of many items on my plate last Saturday night, and it went great.

Rice, wings, taco boats & a skewer

I do like variety on my plate, and yes it’s unusual I don’t have a vegetable on it. Don’t judge! It was Saturday night.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dad’s out there. Have a safe wonderful weekend.

Till next week, Cheers

Smart People Drink Wine

Great news for wine lovers

There’s a reason for wine lovers to celebrate tonight. Not only because it’s Saturday night, but because drinking wine makes you smarter. At least according to Yale neuroscientist Gordon Shepherd. Now, I’m not Albert Einstein, or Albert Wine-stein for that matter, but that’s great news to me.

Dr. Shepherd says wine exercises both sides of your brain. Wine drinking requires sniffing& swirling the wine on the different sides of your mouth. Shepherd points out that this activity is a complex motor process involving several areas of the brain. The researcher covers the connection between interpreting wine flavors and the brain in detail in his book, “Neuroenology: How the Brain Creates the Taste of Wine.” And since wine requires use of so many of your senses, including smell and taste, it makes sense.

So here’s to great wine and smarter wine-drinkers.

So last week I told you I was taking care of the food for a few friends getting together on a balcony. We are allowed to get together on a balcony, not inside. Now some people froze, it was chilly, although 2 days later there was a heat wave warning.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

So we had 2 salads, a Caesar, and a Mediterranean Orzo salad. Orzo is a pasta that looks like rice, but actually is a pasta, and is great in a salad. I added red pepper, red onion, chickpeas, tomatoes, fresh herbs & feta cheese. You can add whatever you like to give it a splash of color.

Lemony Herb dressing

Then I made this delicious lemony herb dressing. And it’s even better the next day. In the dressing is fresh lemon juice, the zest of the lemon, 1 clove of garlic, red wine vinegar, honey, salt & pepper and of course olive oil. Delish!

Marinated chicken skewers

We also had some marinated chicken skewers. It’s the Chef Spencer Watts recipe that I had mentioned in a previous blog. That recipe is here.

Taco boats

I also did taco boats, because the store was sold out of the small taco shells, but these worked out better when we were sitting on a patio. They were much easier to handle, and less mess. (My apologies for a next day picture, I forgot to take a picture the night before, and this was left-overs.) The homemade salsa, lime cilantro crema, and dipping sauce for the skewers were a hit as well. I had so much fun doing this. I want to do this for our next get together.

Now let’s talk some wine, & cocktails – my intelligent friends. This past week we had a heat wave for 2 days, so on days like that, I like a nice cold refreshing drink. Can you say Arriba! (I know you have to more mature to remember Speedy Gonzales, but that’s what he would cheer.)

Speedy Gonzales

Speedy Gonzales would love these. I know we did.

Just before this latest lockdown, my friends and I had a Mexican themed food night. And what better way to kick off the event than with a classic Margarita from Jose Cuervo, featuring the famous Jose Cuervo tequila. Jose Cuervo has been making tequila for 250 years and now they are making these delicious mixed drinks. They are affordable and not at all sweet.

Here’s another drink that is not the least bit sweet. I’m not a fan of sweet drinks. Before Riley went back to Newfoundland, after his first year of University, he handed me one of these, and said ‘give it a try’. Well, the only danger with this drink is that you can’t taste any booze and it went down pretty fast. Wouldn’t take long to go through a 6-pack. Delicious and refreshing and the watermelon is one of 3 new flavors introduced this past year.

My friend Angie shared this wonderful wine with me this past week. It was easy to drink and not overly oaky. I figured the winemaker can describe it even better than I can.

“These Reserva wines reflect the varietal character, which combined with an ageing of 6 months in French oak barrels, make them to stand out for their freshness, fruit and balance.”

Errazuriz was started by two great wine-makers, Eduardo Chadwick and Robert Mondavi. And the winemaker for estate, Francisco Baettig, has won winemaker of the year for Chile, and has been nominated for one of the ‘best winemakers in the world’. So you know it’s a great value at just $16.99

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Till next week, Cheers

Wine In The Great Outdoors

I know Summer doesn’t officially start until June 21st, but it’s supposed to be sunny and 27-degrees today. The great news this week, restrictions have eased a bit here in Nova Scotia, as we entered Phase 1 of the reopening from our 3rd wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are allowed to gather in groups of 10 on a patio outdoors. Today, it’s supposed to hit 27° so me and 6 friends are gathering on a patio. Can’t wait to drink wine, catch up and share some laughs.

Every once in a while I get a bit of writers block, it’s to be expected when you write a one blog every single Saturday for over 10 years. So I decided to go through my archives, to see if I could get any new inspiration or even update previous wine blogs. I realize that the first Saturday of every June, I tend to write a blog that centres around a barbecue. Now I know in previous blogs I show many pictures featuring me cooking food on the grill. The guys at work call me the “Queen of the Barbecue for good reason. LOL 😆

Eating healthier

I tried to eat a little healthier this week, made a Caesar salad dressing without eggs. I am a person who doesn’t like eggs. I know, me and Guy Fieri from the Food Network, he doesn’t like eggs either. This was a delicious dressing, from a blog called ‘Once Upon a Chef’. Click here for the recipe.

Balsamic Honey Glazed Carrots

I also found some organic multi-colored carrots this past week and did this Balsalmic Honey Glazed Carrot dish. Simple, olive oil, butter, salt, pepper, honey, balsamic vinegar and some parsley to finish. The recipe is here. I’m also looking forward to the fresh corn. This wasn’t quite as juicy and delicious as I like my corn. I can’t wait for the peaches and cream corn to come out.

It’s early for the corn.

I’m so excited to be providing the food for tonight’s get-together, I’ll share some pictures next week. It’s going to be simple, sitting outside, patio food. Marinated chicken skewers, mini tacos, a Mediterranean Orzo salad, and the above Caesar salad.

Jackie & Craig

I also want to take a moment to say Happy 34th Anniversary to my sister Jackie and her husband Craig. When Jackie was 17 she started a part time job at McDonald’s, and Craig was her first customer. 4 years later they married and have 2 gorgeous children, Brady & Riley. And of course a fur-baby, Maggie. I’ve introduced you to Maggie when she was an 8-week old puppy. Jackie sent me this picture this week, wow, is she growing. Check out the size of her paws.

Now, let’s talk some wine. First for the white.

La Vielle Ferme White

I went to my friend Angie’s this past week, and she bought out the red version of this wine, and I said to her, I need to get another of the white. This is a spectacular white wine, I absolutely love it, and its under $15 a bottle. It comes from France, and has been hailed around the world as a spectacular value for the money. It’s a blend of 4 white grapes and has delicious flavors of peach, pear and honey. Great wine.

Speaking of great blends, here’s one for the red wine drinkers.

One of my favorite blends in the world, is a GSM. GSM usually is the abbreviation for Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. Sometimes the M is Merlot. Either way, it’s a fantastic juicy blend with great structure, and a nice lasting finish. I had a red wine this week that I tried for the first time, and I’m not sharing it, because I wasn’t really that fond of it. Don’t get me wrong, the bottle got finished. But one of the things I really noticed was that as soon as you swallowed, it was gone, all of the flavor and any remnants of the wine. I like a nice finish, and you won’t be disappointed in this. Under $20 and a great wine.

If you’re grilling this weekend, have fun and let me know what you grilled. Have a wonderful weekend, till next week, Cheers

The 5 S’s of Wine Tasting

I miss wine tastings! 30 to 40 times a year people would hire me to come to their home, gather their friends, and I would facilitate a wine-tasting. One of the main reasons I love wine tastings, is that it gives people a chance to try different wines that they normally would not buy at their local wine store.
Wine is not cheap, at least here in the eastern part of Canada. We pay a lot for wines. As I welcome our new visitors and readers from the US, Germany and Australia, we pay at least double, & sometimes triple, what you guys pay for the same bottle of wine! We really love our wine. Let’s take a look at the 5 ‘S’s’ usually associated with a wine tasting.

See

Take a look at your wine, ensure it is not cloudy. A cloudy wine can be caused by a second fermentation in the bottle, normally caused by huge shift of temperature. It’s harmless, but the wine won’t be necessarily pleasant

Swirl

That wine may have been in that bottle for a couple of years, swirling releases many different aromas and flavours. It has become second nature to me, I automatically swirl a glass of wine every time.

Smell

Smelling the wine, after swirling is very important. So many of the different flavours & aromas are picked up when you smell the wine, and it will definitely make tasting the wine more pleasant.

This is all we can have during a lockdown

Sip

Everyone’s favourite part, sipping the wine. Training to be a Sommelier, when we would taste wines at every class, the sipping will confirm many of the aromas you picked up when smelling the wine.

Savor

Does the flavour linger? One of the things I don’t enjoy about some wines, is that soon as you swallow it, the flavour is gone. I like when that flavour lingers in your mouth, that’s enjoyment to me.

Before I tell you about the white & red wine of the week this week, can I show you my first attempt at making tacos. I know, first? I’ve made quesadillas, and I make fajitas and stir-frys a lot, but this was my first true attempt at making a taco and they were delicious

Cilantro

It started with me purchasing, and replanting a cilantro plant. I’m so excited, cilantro is one of my favourite herbs, and this plant looks like it’s going to make it!

Homemade Salsa

Then it’s my delicious homemade salsa. I’ve been making my own homemade salsa since the beginning of the pandemic.

Lime Cilantro Crema

At a particular restaurant here in town, they serve lime and cilantro sour cream, and I’ve always loved it. When I bought the taco kit at Costco with a group of friends, they provided a line and cilantro Crema. Again, delicious. The knock-off recipe is here.

I did pretty good.

I sautéed chicken breast with onions, peppers, and a homemade taco seasoning. Then, I added cheese and some coleslaw on top, my homemade salsa, and the lime and cilantro Crema. I will definitely be making this meal again, served it with some coleslaw on the side and some rice. Easy peasy and out of this world delicious.

Let me show you a great white and red wine.

Kung Fu Girl Riesling


Kung Fu Girl Riesling is dry, but just touches on the off dry, which makes it so perfectly delicious with tacos or any Asian cuisine. There’s great acidity and just a little tinge of sweetness on the tip of your tongue. Serve it chilled and it’s a great partner for many of your favorite meals, priced under $20 here.

A Pinot Noir / Syrah Blend?

I didn’t know what to think when I saw this label at the NSLC. A winery in France took the thinnest skin grape, Pinot Noir, and paired it with the thickest skinned grape, Syrah, also known as Shiraz. It is a very uncommon blend, but was it ever delicious! I have a couple of friends who say they don’t like Pinot noir, becauses it’s wimpy. I’m going to challenge them to try this wine. This wine is not wimpy, it’s a medium to full-bodied wine with lots of flavor, very food friendly and priced under $17. I would love to hear what you think on this unique blend.

Stay safe everyone. Till next week, Cheers

Long Weekend Wines

A long weekend, another one during a full-blown lockdown here in Nova Scotia. So let’s face it, it’s more important than ever to have something to look forward to this weekend, so why not enjoy some great wines and delicious cocktails.

Last year during the first lockdown, my work colleagues and I would end the week by having a virtual happy hour. We have started doing that again this year. This was my cocktail of choice to kick off the long weekend yesterday.

Cranberry Gin Smash

I stopped drinking coolers many many years ago because I couldn’t handle the sweetness. Sorry Bacardi Breezers, loved you but could only drink one at a time. I think that’s why I started drinking wine. Manufacturers have acknowledged this, and now there is a wide variety of flavored coolers at your favorite liquor store that are not sweet. This is one of them. The Georgian Bay cranberry Gin Smash was refreshing and delightful, and will be making another appearance in my refrigerator. And you can buy them separately!! I love that. I like being able to mix and match cocktails at the liquor store.

This long weekend, unofficially the kick off to Summer, is also a great time to enjoy a Rose wine.

Long weekend Rose

As most of you know, I am planning to do a trip to the Niagara Wine region with Atlantic Tours this year, and in Ontario, there is a company called Long Weekend Wines. They make a white wine, a red wine and also this Rose, which I have to get my hands on when I can finally travel to Ontario. It’s under $14 a bottle and its a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Two hardy red wine grapes, but of course with limited skin contact to make it a rose.

Ok, so we’ve covered a gin cocktail, a rose wine, and before I tell you about a fantastic find I discovered this past week, I’ve been experimenting with new recipes. I watch a lot of Food Network, and the chefs are always doing their take on a fried chicken sandwich. So I decided to give it a try.

Fried Chicken Sandwich

I have to say it turned out pretty good. It was tasty, but it was so messy to make, or maybe I’m a messy cook. So I took a chicken breast, sliced it in half, and then pounded it to even thickness. (That was fun!!) Then I made an easy batter of flour, corn starch, salt & pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and cayenne pepper. Then I added enough water to make the batter the same consistency of pancake batter. Keep in mind most recipes I find are made for 4 – 6 people, and because I live alone I cut all these recipes down. I’ve even seen where chefs have used beer instead of water, to give it a unique flavor. This is what my batter looked like.

The batter

The batter was easy to make, I just kept adding water till it was like pancake batter. And then I dunked in my 2 pieces of chicken breast, and fried them in oil in a frying pan.

It made for a delicious sandwich, I cooked it 3 minutes per side, and added ham, lettuce and cheese to make it kind of a BLT. Like I said, delicious, but messy. There was a lot of spatter of oil from the frying pan, so I’m not sure if I was doing something wrong there. Any tips out there would be greatly appreciated.

Now I have to share the fantastic find I discovered this week.

Whenever I’m at the liquor store and I see a red sale sign, I tend to check out the wine. We are, after all, in the middle of a pandemic that has lasted for over a year. I picked this up and Oh My God! It was delicious and had great body, and the 3 grape blend provided a nice complexity. Sit down, because this wine is on sale right now here in Nova Scotia for $12.49 a bottle. From the Mendoza region in Argentina, it’s definitely worth checking out this long weekend.

Stay safe everyone, and till next week Cheers

A great personality makes for a great wine-drinking friend